Anthropology department responds to sexual misconduct

Anthropology faculty, the Anthropology Club and Student Union operations coordinator Tim Flynn are hosting “Dear #MeToo, We Hear You.” The event will be in the Den on April 22, 6-8 p.m. to support victims of sexual misconduct by UAA faculty.

“We are soliciting stories that are going to be anonymous,” Anthropology Department Chair Clare Dannenberg said. “It’s very important to us that students feel that they are heard.”

A potluck dinner will be provided. A panel will read anonymous testimonies of sexual misconduct, such as harassment, assault and discrimination.  Halfway through the readings, performers will speak or read poetry of a supportive nature.

Advocates including the UAA Care Team, Standing Together Against Rape Alaska, the UAA Title IX office, the UAA Student Health and Promotion Team and The UAA Office of Equity and Compliance will also be available to provide information and support resources.

“Dear #MeToo, We Hear You” is being held in response to the reactions to the Title IX investigation on Dr. David Yesner. People have approached professor Sally Carraher and other anthropology faculty members to talk about the situation.

“There’s been people, who this stuff has happened to, who are feeling a range of emotions… I’ve also heard from other people, who reached out to me privately, who had some idea that this was going on but didn’t know the extent. [There is] a lot of shock. There are other people who had zero idea that this was going on,” Carraher, who is playing a major role in planning the event, said. “We wanted to highlight and recenter [the attention] around the people who have stories to share.”

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The purpose of the gathering is to start a conversation and work towards improving the UAA campus environment.

“Through that testimonial, [we hope] to help the greater UAA community realize what these commonalities in these experiences are and what we are doing wrong,” Carraher said.

The testimonies are submitted online without any way of tracing it back to the author. Names and email addresses will not be saved, and any non-anonymous details will be deleted as well, Dannenberg said.

“We want to [share the stories] in a way that keeps people safe because the number one reason why people may not report that something bad has happened to them is because they, very justifiably so, fear negative consequences. They also sometimes don’t feel like it’s worth any kind of risk, because [they wonder], ‘Are there going to be any consequences? Is there going to be any change?’” Carraher said.

UAA has also taken action in other ways. Faculty evaluation guidelines have been updated to include professional ethical standards. This means that professors will be evaluated not only based on teaching skills, but also on professional ethical behavior before promotion.

“We are having conversations with our students about Title IX, that faculty members are mandated reporters and what that actually means,” Carraher said.

Along with “Dear #MeToo, We Hear You,” UAA is hosting other events to promote Title IX compliance during April, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

On April 18 from 12-1 p.m. in the Lyla Richards Conference Room, experienced professionals will speak in the Prevention and Advocacy Career Panel. This event is for anyone interested in working in the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and Advocacy industry.

On April 24, Denim Day, all are encouraged to wear denim as a statement of support for survivors of sexual violence.

Visit the UAA website to find other events promoting safety and inclusion.

“I hope that the UAA community comes out for the [‘Dear #MeToo, We Hear You’],” Flynn said. “The anthropology department wants to try and work through some of the healing processes. I think the Student Union is a great place because people already feel comfortable there.”

Anyone inside or outside of the university is welcome and encouraged to attend.

“This is going to be an event that I hope really builds community and support,” Dannenberg said.

To submit testimony about sexual misconduct at UAA, click this link: